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Celebrate the 2019 honorees of SPJ Western Washington’s annual awards

The Society of Professional Journalists Western Washington chapter is pleased to announce the honorees of the 2019 SPJ Wash awards, which recognize the work of journalists across the state, and the student recipients of $12,500 in scholarships and grants. All recipients will be honored during the end-of-the-year awards party on July 1. Join us to celebrate their important work.

Here’s what colleagues and friends of the award recipients had to say.

Journalist of the Year:

Lynda Mapes, Seattle Times reporter

“On July 24, 2018, Seattle Times readers learned about Tahlequah. That was the day Lynda Mapes first reported the death of Tahlequah’s calf, which died just 30 minutes after being born. For the next 17 days and 1,000 miles, Tahlequah carried her calf, attracting a larger and larger audience from around the world. Many were stunned by the display of grief. Along the way, Mapes provided daily updates, offering witness to and context for an ecological tragedy unfolding before our eyes.

Afterward, Mapes dug deeper with an ongoing series of thoroughly reported stories explaining how human impacts on Puget Sound have left the southern resident killer whales facing extinction. Mapes’ ‘Hostile Waters’ series is science reporting at its best, threaded with pathos and history to remind us how the people of the Pacific Northwest are so intertwined with the whales, and why responsibility falls squarely on us to address this crisis.”

June Anderson Almquist Lifetime Achievement Award:

Lori Matsukawa, retired KING 5 news anchor

“Lori has been a pioneer in broadcast journalism — as a person of Japanese descent and as a woman who, when she entered the field, relegated most women to supporting roles like traffic and weather. Over the course of 36 years, Lori Matsukawa produced numerous stories, interviewed many VIPs and helmed newscasts on the region’s biggest stories.”

Joe Copeland, Crosscut senior editor

“Newsrooms can be crazy, stressful, foul-mouthed places. Joe, with his Yomiuri Giants coffee mug, keeps us steady. He’s our rock during breaking news. He’s our smart pair of second eyes on sensitive stories. His is a soft voice that is powerful: we always pay attention when he has something to say. “

New Journalists of the Year:

Asia Fields, Seattle Times news resident

“Asia Fields started at The Seattle Times as a summer intern in 2018, and so impressed the newsroom with her versatility – covering everything from lip-syncing cops to bureaucratic red tape over a homeless shelter – that she was made a three-year resident on the night cops beat. Asia is curious, tough and ambitious in her work, and a pleasure to work with.”

Agueda Pacheco Flores, Crosscut reporter

“She so values the stories she is able to tell and deeply cares about her sources and their contribution to the community’s story. She seeks out the important stories of those who aren’t traditionally at the center of our news universe, and she navigates difficult stories with grace and thoughtfulness. She already has made a difference on staff at Crosscut and she will continue to be a name you hear pop up around important scoops for years to come.”

Josh Kelety, The Inlander staff writer

“It’s rare to see a young journalist so committed and, to some measure, self-schooled in public-affairs journalism. He deserves this recognition as motivation to hold the course on behalf of communities he serves. They need him. The profession needs him.”

Susan Hutchison Bosch Award for Perseverance and Quiet Courage:

Angela Cooper-McCorkle, former Snohomish County Tribune reporter (awarded posthumously)

“With intelligence and calm grace, Angela sincerely treated every story source with respect, fairness and kindness. I can tell you she pointed her career path toward journalism as a sense of fulfilled empowerment that she could use storytelling to ‘fight for the little guy’ and giving a ‘voice for the voiceless.’ She deeply appreciated story assignments that gave her this capability. Consistently, Angela oriented her story pitches toward writing on equality and social issues… she was constantly looking for arenas to delve into, leading to her in-depth enterprise reporting on affordable housing and student homelessness.”

Journalism Educator of the Year:

Raul Benjamin Moreno, Washington State University Vancouver student media adviser

“He makes his experience and guidance available to all media students at WSUV, often from a distance and beyond business hours. Raul’s experience with journalism and radio for NPR paired with his effort to stay informed about political movements and industry standards make him an essential training source for student journalists with no formal program. He is always challenging students to practice new skills (like live-to-tape recordings and slow-cook journalism projects) while making sure they face the challenge well-equipped.”

Innovation Award:

Josh Farley, Kitsap Sun reporter

“Each month Josh hosts ‘The Story Walk’ where community members get to experience the story, not just read it. This result of these story walks has had a profound and positive effect on this community. Not only do you get the story and learn from it but you gather as a community, you get to know your neighbors and share the news together.”


SPJ Western Washington is also pleased to announce the recipients of $12,500 in scholarships and grants. These awards, which are critical in supporting young student journalists, are only possible thanks to community support for this organization.

  • Washington State University student Kayla Bautista received a $5,000 scholarship. Bautista will also intern at KHQ-TV in Spokane this fall.
  • Western Washington University student Zoë Buchli also received a $5,000 scholarship. Buchli hopes to travel to Morocco and Spain after college to report from abroad.
  • Clark College student Jenifer Banceu received $2,500 to support her while she interns at The Columbian this summer.

Tickets are still available for the Northwest Excellence in Journalism Awards Party at 6 p.m., July 1 at Optimism Brewing Company, located at 1158 Broadway, Seattle. Tickets are $40 and include three beers and food.

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